Monday, February 02, 2015

Don Covay RIP

Yet another soul great has died - this time Don Covay, at the age of 76, who was not only one of the finest soul singers of the sixties and seventies, but also a leading songwriter of the era. After a spell with the Rainbows, a group that also included Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart at various times, he joined the Little Richard revue in 1957 and released his first single Bip Bop Bip, produced by Richard, under the name of Pretty Boy. He wrote and recorded Pony Time, a big hit for Chubby Checker, and had success with Popeye Waddle for the Cameo Parkway label. He also wrote songs for Solomon Burke (I'm Hanging Up My Heart For You) and Gladys Knight and the Pips (Letter Full Of Tears).
Joining the Rosemart label he had a hit with Mercy Mercy, along with his band the Goodtimers (featuring Jimi Hendrix on guitar), and was signed by Atlantic where he had even greater success with See Saw. Other Atlantic singles, many recorded at Stax, included Sookie Sookie, You Put Something On Me and Shingaling 67. He was part of the Soul Clan, comprising Solomon Burke, Arthur Conley, Ben E King and Joe Tex as well as Don, recording Soul Meeting in 1968 and his songwriting hits included Chain Of Fools for Aretha Franklin. In the seventies he moved to Janus and then to Mercury and Philadelphia International, where he recorded numbers such as I Was Checking Out She Was Checking In, It's Better To Have (And Don't Need) and No Tell Motel. He suffered a stroke in the 1990s but recovered sufficiently to record a final album Adlib in 2000.  
The new year has already seen more than its fair share of music deaths. Among those who I haven't mentioned so far is Kim Fowley, a cult figure in many ways, who was involved with such hits as Alley Oop (Hollywood Argylls), Nut Rocker ( B Bumble & the Stingers), Like Long Hair (Paul Revere & the Raiders) and Popsicles and Icicles (the Murmaids). He relocated to England for a while, getting involved
with P J Proby among others, and recorded occasionally himself, including a cover of Napoleon IV's They're Coming To Take Me Away. Other projects included Gene Vincent's comeback album I'm Back And I'm Proud in 1969. In the seventies he is best known for his involvement with girl band the Runaways. I remember seeing Kim at the Mean Fiddler in 1995. My verdict at the time was 'a cult, but rather boring.'
Others include poet and folk singer Rod McKuen, Greek warbler Demis Roussos, songwriter Rose Marie McCoy, who wrote Elvis's I Beg Of You, and veteran British whistling act Ronnie Ronalde. RIP to them all.


At 3:13 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Seamus McGarvey commented: Sad news though about Don Covay (hadn't heard it I'm afraid, nor Rose Marie McCoy). I was lucky enough to meet Don and chat to him a couple of times through the family with whom I stay in Maryland when I'm down there for music and suchlike - he was in a home not far from them. Another sad loss I'm afraid.

At 3:32 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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